What is a Scrum Master and what does he/she do?

Many of you might ask these questions from time to time so in hopes of clarifying all this I compiled some materials for you all.

What is a Scrum Master and what does he/she do?

"The ScrumMaster is responsible for making sure a Scrum team lives by the values and practices of Scrum. The ScrumMaster is often considered a coach for the team, helping the team do the best work it possibly can. The ScrumMaster can also be thought of as a process owner for the team, creating a balance with the project's key stakeholder, who is referred to as the product owner.
The ScrumMaster does anything possible to help the team perform at their highest level. This involves removing any impediments to progress, facilitating meetings, and doing things like working with the product owner to make sure the product backlog is in good shape and ready for the next sprint. The ScrumMaster role is commonly filled by a former project manager or a technical team leader but can be anyone."
Source: http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/agile/scrum/scrummaster

The Scrum Master as a coach

"To describe the Scrum Master as a coach three different perspectives can be used, the individual, the team and the organisation. Coaching the individual with a focus on mindset and behaviour, the team in continuous improvement and the organisation in truly collaborating with the Scrum teams.

Coaching the individual

  • Explain the desired mindset and behaviour, help individuals see new perspectives and possibilities;
  • Influence the individual team members to use Scrum well;
  • Help each person take the next step on his or her agile journey.(Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins)

Coaching the team

  • Stimulate a mindset of continuous improvement, create a learning culture;
  • Support the team in problem solving and conflict resolution;
  • Coach the team to develop “to the point that members learn how to best learn from one another”;
  • Change the attitude, mindset and behaviour that restrict the team of doing Scrum well;
  • Coach the team in giving each other open and honest feedback."

Source: http://www.barryovereem.com/the-scrum-master-as-a-coach/#_ftn7

What is agile coaching?

“In the context of agile teams, coaching takes on the dual flavour of coaching and mentoring. Yes, you are coaching to help someone reach for the next goal in their life, just as a professional work/life coach does. You are also sharing your agile experiences and ideas as you mentor them, guiding them to use agile well. In this way, coaching and mentoring are entwined for the sake of developing talented agilists so that more and better business results arise through agile.”
Source: Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins
“The context of agile makes you a mentor; the focus on team performance makes you a coach.”
Source: Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins

What are we coaching for?

“Help the team develop and get healthier together (or recover more completely when not healthy)”
Source: Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins

The Scrum Masters approach as a Process Owner

As stated by the Mike Cohn (Mike Cohn is the founder of Mountain Goat Software, he is one of the contributors to the invention of the Scrum software development methodology, co-founder of both the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance and served for many years on the boards of directors of each) a Scrum Master can’t force the team to do something (because the team is self-organizing), doing so goes beyond authority over the process and enters into how the team works.
A Scrum Master must identify problems in the inner workings of the team and raise them. He can propose a solution for the team and even be part of the solution but this will only be done if the team agrees with it. Remember that you as a Scrum Master can’t make the team adopt your solution, you can drive them to a solution or even propose one but in the end the team has the very last word if they want to adopt it or even change it.

As a last word I strongly encourage you to read the quoted material that I used here and hope you can finally understand what is the main purpose of the Scrum Master in your organisation.